Best Online Associate in Fire Science Degree Programs

Oct 20, 2021

What is an Online Fire Science Associate Degree?

An online fire science associate degree will give a student the skills they need to pursue a career as a fire fighter or other fire-related careers. Associate degree programs will cover topics like fire safety, fire prevention, and code inspections. For the best career outcomes, a student should look for an associate degree program that is recognized by the U.S. Fire Administration or other fire industry organization.

Depending on the school, a student may earn an Associate of Science (A.S.), Associate of Arts (A.A.), or an Associate of Applied Science (A.A.S.). Many associate degree programs in fire science will require 60 credit hours of work; however, some degree programs may require more. Credit requirements will include a mix of general education classes, major classes, and electives.

Who Should Pursue an Online Fire Science Associate Degree?

Earning an online fire science associate degree is an ideal way to start a career in the fire safety industry. Students will need to be focused on wanting to help others. Students should also have strong problem-solving skills and be good communicators. To start this type of program, a student will need a high school diploma or a GED and will need to be accepted into the program.

Online associate degree programs in fire science can work with either full- or part-time study schedules. This can give potential students the flexibility to complete the degree on their own schedule. An associate degree in fire science can also be a great steppingstone for firefighting school.

Application, Admissions, and Enrollment for Online Fire Science Associate Degree Programs

The application and admission process for an online associate degree program in fire science will vary based on the school a student chooses. However, most colleges and universities will require an enrollment application. Programs will also require at least a high school diploma or GED.

If a student has any previously earned college credits, they should include that information in the application. Students may be required to provide official transcripts for college courses. Some schools recommend speaking with an admissions advisor before starting the application process.

Many universities with online degree programs are always accepting applications. However, if a student wants to start classes at a specific time, there will likely be an application deadline. Once a student has been officially accepted in a fire science associate degree program, the school will explain the enrollment process and which classes the student should enroll in first. Students will want to make sure they have the right technology to access their online courses. This will likely include a laptop and a reliable internet connection.

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of an Online Fire Science Associate Degree Program?

Earning an online fire science associate degree has some distinct advantages. The biggest advantage is that a student usually has more flexibility in their class schedule. Students may be able to complete their courses within a set time period instead of on a strict schedule. Online degree programs also have the benefit of potentially helping students save money on things like gas, parking, and food that they might have spent if they want to school on campus.

One of the disadvantages to an online program is the lack of face-to-face communication. Students may also miss the potential for hands-on learning with their instructors. Students will also need to have good time-management skills to make sure they do not fall behind in their classes.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Fire Science Associate Degree?

A typical online fire science associate degree consists of 60 credit hours of work; however, some programs may be longer. Many students complete associate degree programs within two years. By using transfer credits or applicable work experience, a student may be able to complete the degree program even faster. Some programs may offer an internship option to enhance potential career opportunities.

How Much Does an Online Associate Degree in Fire Science Cost?

The cost for an online associate degree in fire science will depend on the school a student chooses. Most schools will charge tuition for each credit hour. The least expensive schools have tuition rates around $235 per credit hour. Other schools will be more expensive. Students may be able to keep costs down with transfer credits, scholarships, or potential discounts for military service. There may also be additional fees for any needed books or materials.

Online Fire Science Associate Degree Coursework

The coursework for a fire science associate degree will focus on fire safety and understanding the dynamics of a fire. Here are some major courses found in many associate degree programs:

  • Fire Behavior and Combustion
  • Fire Prevention
  • Fire Protection Systems
  • Principles of Fire and Emergency Services

In addition to major courses, a fire science associate degree will include general education and elective classes. Major requirements usually consist of about one-third of the total degree requirements.

What Can I Do with an Online Associate Degree in Fire Science?

While the most obvious career to pursue with an associate degree in fire science is a fire fighter, there are a lot of other career options available. Jobs to consider include Fire Services Administrator, Fire Inspector, Fire Investigator, Fire Protection Engineer, and Fire Prevention Supervisor.

Begin a Career as a Fire Protection Engineer

A fire protection engineer usually works with a company that designs or specializes in fire equipment. This may include building architecture, fire-safe construction, fire safety engineering, or environmental areas.

To pursue this type of career, a candidate will need at least a bachelor's degree. This may include a degree in fire science, engineering, or another related field. Experience working with a fire department may also help in this career field.

As a fire protection engineer, an individual may work to design fire sprinklers or fire alarms. Job responsibilities may include inspecting construction sites along with analyzing architectural designs. Fire protection engineers should have a good understanding of risk management, fluid dynamics, and project coordination.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) the median pay in 2020 for health and safety engineers was $94,240 per year. The job outlook between 2019 and 2029 projects that this career is expected to grow 4%.

Begin a Career as a Fire Inspector

Fire inspectors are a popular career field for those with a degree in fire science. A fire inspector will look for potential fire hazards in buildings to make sure that they comply with all applicable fire codes. Fire inspectors usually work in an office and in the field. There are also careers available for forest fire inspectors.

To become a fire inspector, a job candidate will need a high school diploma and should typically have experience working as a firefighter. Depending on the position, it may also require an associate or bachelor's degree in fire science or a related field.

According to the BLS, the median pay for fire inspectors, as reported in 2020, is $62,120 per year. The job outlook between 2019 and 2029 is expected to grow by 8%, which is much faster than the average job.

Accreditation for Online Fire Science Associate Degree Programs

Accreditation is an important consideration when choosing a degree program. Online associate degree programs in fire science may earn accreditation from a variety of sources. Some common accrediting agencies include the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), and the International Fire Service Accreditation Congress (IFSAC).

Getting a degree from an accredited college or university will give a student a more credible education. It is also an important factor in qualifying for financial aid, as many scholarships and loans are only available to use at accredited institutions.

What Is the Difference Between a Firefighter and a Fire Captain?

Many fire-related careers may seem similar, such as firefighter and fire captain. However, there are some experience and educational requirement that set them apart.

To become a firefighter, you will need on-the-job training and may need to attend a Fire Academy. To qualify as a fire captain, you will need a few years of experience as a firefighter in addition to postsecondary training, such as an associate degree in fire science.

The BLS reports that the expected job growth between 2019 and 2029 for both positions is 6%, which is faster than the average. Fire captains will usually earn more than firefighters since a fire captain is a supervisory role.

Transfer Options After Completing an Online Fire Science Associate Degree

After earning an online fire science associate degree, there are numerous transfer opportunities available to students. Many schools with associate degree programs offer the same or similar programs as a bachelor's degree. If a student attends the same school for both, the transfer process should be seamless.

With an associate degree in fire science, many students go on to earn a bachelor's degree in fire science, fire science administration, or fire and emergency management. Students may also be able to apply the credits they earned in their associate degree program towards a bachelor's degree in another related field.

What Are Other Fire Science Degree Options?

While an associate degree in fire science may be the first step for a student, there are a wide range of other degree options available. These higher-level degrees can help an individual advance in their chosen career field and get higher paying positions with more responsibility.

Online Bachelor's Programs in Fire Science

Many schools that offer associate degree programs in fire science also have bachelor's degree in similar fields, such as fire administration or fire investigation. These degrees will typically be a Bachelor of Science. Most online bachelor's degree programs will consist of 120 credits that will usually take four years to complete. However, with an already-completed associate degree, a student may be able to cut the number of credits and amount of time needed in half.

Online Master's Programs in Fire Science

After earning a bachelor's degree, some students may wish to advance their education further. If so, there are online master's degree programs related to fire science. Some examples include a Master of Public Safety Leadership and Administration or a Master of Arts in Organization Leadership. These degrees typically require between 30 and 40 credit hours and may take more than two years to complete.

Online Doctoral Programs in Fire Science

There are currently limited options when it comes to online doctoral programs in fire science. There are, however, a small number of on-campus options available.

Online Certificate Programs in Fire Science

For students who want to get a jumpstart in their fire career without having to take the time to earn a complete degree, there are online certificate programs available in fire science. These programs are typically shorter than an associate degree program and may be completed in as little as one year. A fire science certificate can prepare a student for a career as a firefighter, a fire inspector, or a building investigator.

Scholarships & Financial Aid for Fire Science Online Associate Degrees

Pursuing an online associate degree in fire science may seem unattainable; however, scholarship and financial aid opportunities may put it more in reach. A student's first step should always be filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to investigate their options. Additionally, here are some scholarships available to student pursuing a degree in fire science.

  • Heather Westphal Memorial Scholarship Award. This scholarship helps encourage women to become first responders. It has an award amount of $2,000.
  • Ned Carter Scholarships. This scholarship is for graduating high schoolers who are pursuing a service-related degree, such as fire science. There are four scholarships available for $1,500 each.
  • Floyd B. Heimer Memorial Scholarship Award. For this scholarship, students need to be from the state of Maryland and studying fire science or other emergency medical services. The award amount is $2,000.
  • John Mabry Forestry Scholarships. For students planning to pursue a fire-related career in the forest industry, they can apply for this scholarship. The scholarship is available for both two- and four-year degree programs and is $2,000.
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